Speech and language waiting list times in County Clare are scandalous

Services now at breaking point confirmed by HSE statistics

Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has said today that speech and language therapy services in County Clare are at breaking point.

Many constituents had reported issues getting appointments in recent months for both initial assessment and follow up treatment.

Deputy Carey sought clarification from the HSE on how long clients are waiting for assessment and treatment in Clare (see attached reply).

The response, he says, highlights very clearly that services are not working and that there is now a major crisis within speech and language provision in County Clare.

Deputy Carey said:

“Several concerned parents have contacted me in recent months. In some cases, it had taken up to a year to get an appointment for speech and language assessment. Once that assessment was done, some clients were given an appointment for speech and language therapy, only to take place once a month.

I sought clarification on this matter from the HSE. The reply (see attached) shows that for 78% of clients, it will take up to four months for initial assessment to take place. Only 34% of those will get a follow up appointment within another four months. So it is more than likely the assessment and first appointment will take almost a year for the majority patients.

This is a crazy situation and for any young child who needs speech and language therapy, a full year is a hell of a long time to be waiting for treatment.

Only for the work of The Clare Crusaders, a local voluntary organisation who provide rehabilitation services, that children in Clare are provided for. Without them many Clare families would have nowhere to turn, because based on these figures, the HSE is not doing its job.

In their reply to me, the HSE say they are reviewing waiting lists and the manner in which the service is being delivered. Yet why is it that it is only within a crisis is apparent that the HSE acts on service provision? Surely this situation could have been anticipated? There are enough HSE managers on hefty salaries to be able to plan for the proper provision of services like speech and language therapy.

What we need now is an action plan from the HSE on this issue and we need it within weeks. I want to see targets drawn up and strictly adhered, in an effort to getting these waiting lists down and improving treatment response times.”